Today's Update: Thursday, April 30

April 30, 2020

Dear Student Life Team, 

Few projects have been as rewarding to me as the Kindness Calls that have just wrapped up.  

It was as audacious an idea as it was simple: let’s call all the first-year and graduating students and make sure they’re doing okay. The execution of that idea was anything but simple, and I am grateful to Tracy Stuck and the massive team she put together to make the concept a reality.  

They made 18,000 calls. That is an astounding number, and yet our team did it in just a matter of days. Behind the scenes, technical issues had to be resolved, training for callers had to be developed and procedures needed to be worked up. The logistics were not simple, but the goal of showing kindness to our students drove the mission forward to its ultimate success.  

You can read an article about the Kindness Calls online: news.osu.edu/kindness-calls-reach-thousands-of-ohio-state-students/ 

Callers tracked their interactions with students through an informal assessment. In about 30% of the cases, Student Life was able to reach the student. The majority of callers assessed the interactions as positive, with approximately 80% of students contacted saying they were doing well or managing okay with the life changes caused by COVID-19. Nearly three-fourths reported they were doing well with virtual classes. Of students reached, 5% or less responded negatively to these questions. 

Callers asked students how the university could better support them, and common themes included studying or tutoring assistance (15%), academic advising (9%), financial support (9%), career assistance (7%) and general wellness needs (6%). Callers followed up each call with an email highlighting the myriad support resources Ohio State is offering students during this time. While these interactions may not represent all perspectives, the vast majority of students that were reached expressed appreciation for the university checking in. 

This is an email one of our callers received from a first-year student, and it is typical of the kind of responses we’ve been seeing: 

“Thank you for contacting to make sure I am all good! I am doing great and I hope you are as well. Online classes are cool, but I definitely miss being on campus. I haven’t checked out any of the resources but I will now that I have the link. You guys have been great in the transition and I’m glad to attend a university like Ohio State. Thanks again for checking in on me and I hope you have a great day and rest of semester.” 

Equally rewarding has been the reaction of staff members making the calls. It was a heavy lift with long lists of students for each person to contact. Yet so many of those involved talk about how much they enjoyed the experience of reaching out. Our professional lives are wrapped up in supporting students, and that means a great deal of direct contact. COVID took that away from many of us, and the Kindness Calls project allowed us to reconnect in a very real way.  

I wish I could name everyone who made calls, who finished their list and asked for more, and who did kind things for many of the students they called. It is a long list, and I am so grateful to those who were a part of this extraordinary effort.  

Making all these calls was an act of kindness, showing our students that we care about them. And obviously, when you do a kindness, it comes back to you thousand-fold.  

Thanks to everyone who was involved. You are Scarlet and Great!  

Melissa